AADS is pleased to inform that our study abroad program, Homo Sapiens' Ancient Origin and the Oral Traditions of the Maasai People of East Africa for Summer A 2017, was a great success. FIU Swahili Instructor, Zablon Mgonja, spent four weeks this summer in Tanzania, East Africa. The program was designed to provide students with an introduction to East African cultures and traditions. It explored the unique history, culture and traditions of the Maasai people, an ethnic group that has preserved its culture despite the forces of globalization.
While in Tanzania, students visited the Olduvai Gorge where they had first-hand experience of the world’s famous archaeological and paleoanthropological site. Included in the program was a tour to Ngorongoro crater, the largest un-flooded and unbroken caldera in the world. In Ngorongoro, students saw animals: including elephants, giraffes, hippos, buffaloes, zebras, wildebeests, black rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, wild dog, warthogs, and crocodiles. Another memorable activity consisted of having students take part in a coffee plantation tour, where students picked, processed, grinded, roasted and brewed and tasted fresh coffee directly from the farm. Tanzania is famous for her aromatic Robusta and Arabica coffee varieties. The students took advantage of the vast coffee plantation located close to their residence in Tanzania. Before leaving for Tanzania, students organized themselves and collected various items including school supplies and sanitary supplies which they donated to students from two schools namely Maji ya chai and Goodwill Secondary Schools. The students and administration were very thankful for the thoughtfulness and the help they received from FIU students. The students were able to deconstruct stereotypes often attributed to African societies and peoples; therefore, returning to Miami with a deeper understanding of not only the Massai people, but of Tanzania and Africa collectively.